Diagnosis, Medication Roulette, Support and RecoveryBy
Written by guest author: Judy Sturm, president of the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance – Greater Chicago.
Initially a diagnosis of Clinical Depression or Bipolar Disorder is met with DENIAL. Especially if the diagnosis is BP and the patient is manic it is de rigeur to totally dismiss the doctor’s findings. This can go on for years. I know. I am the poster child for that scenario.
I should say I was the poster child. After ten years of a roller coaster life, I finally came to terms with the fact that I did have a mental illness. This was due to my daughter’s involvement in educating herself about my illness and finding DBSA-GC (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance – Greater Chicago) and its support group for family and friends.
She steered me to the right doctor, he steered me to the right medication and I actually stayed on it because it actually did not numb me or take away my super-duper personality. I was able to laugh and cry and function as a total human being. Finding the right medication or combination, known as a cocktail, is often a challenge to the patient and the doctor. This is sometimes the phase that I call “being your own guinea pig” and is quite a trying time.
Even in the best scenario, there is no instant fix due to meds. For recovery, one has to be pro-active. That means doing more than just popping a pill or even the right pill. It means therapy. It means exercise, focus, and mindfulness. Mindfulness is the mental health buzz in recent years. And rightfully so-it is imperative! It is a huge help to attaining recovery and keeping it.
Because my daughter sought support for herself, I could not refuse her request for me to go to a support group. Each time I went, I felt a bit better. After several months I felt a lot better. Soon I was involved as a facilitator, a board member and now, president of our chapter. I have been stable, employed full time, and have been asymptomatic for almost ten years.
My involvement with our organization is paramount in my continued recovery. As a facilitator of multiple groups I find that sharing and supporting others keeps me aware of my own issues and it is wonderful when the group helps me, supports me in ways they may not even know.
But it is the nature of a support group to know that you are in the company of people that totally “get it”. There is a shorthand in communication that you do not find outside of a group. No matter what the group, AA, NA, Cancer Survivors, etc, the group itself has a dynamic that has instant contact and empathy because you already know you are with kindred spirits. No cocktail party niceties trying to find common ground with a stranger…It is such a relief!
Everyone knows someone with a mood disorder. You might encounter them daily, perhaps even in the mirror.
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is hosting a symposium:
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Mindful Decisions: The Promise of Productive Living
Evanston NorthShore Hospital
To learn more about Judy Sturm, DBSA-GC President, or about the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance, see their website at dbsa-gc.org
Or you can e-mail DBSA-GC at firstname.lastname@example.org